Relationships

Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Get Married in My 20s

During a time when I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, who I was, or what I deserved, I put marriage and babies on a pedestal–and that pedestal had a timeline. These events would determine my self-worth and happiness.

Moving to Chicago, growing my blog, launching The Everygirl, meeting my future husband on Tinder, and getting married after my 35th birthday were not part of my plan. I was going to get married by 28 and have my first baby by 30–and had we spoken back in my mid 20s, I would have told you my life would basically be over if those things didn’t happen under those deadlines.

I spent most of my 20s in a toxic relationship with someone who I’m almost certain was a sociopath. At almost 28, I moved to Chicago, only to remain on and off for another year. A few months before my 30th birthday, I found myself free–truly free for the first time. I had barely scratched the surface of who I was and couldn’t have been less ready to meet someone to share my life with. I’ve talked about why I’m happy things didn’t work out as planned, and today I’d like to share some of the reasons why I’m glad I didn’t get married in my 20s.

I did my thing

My 20s were spent spent figuring out who I was and how to be an adult. I moved across the country by myself a month before my 28th birthday. On my own in a new city and single for the first time in my adult life just a year later,I learned how to really be ok by myself.

I was able to devote nights and weekends to growing The Everygirl. I dated, traveled, and have gone through some serious sh*t on my own–and with my friends by my side. There wasn’t a partner to pick up the pieces and I was more than ok.

At 34, my career is so much more established than it was in my 20s–I was able to follow my dreams before meeting my future husband.

 

I got to know myself

After having had the opportunity to date in my 30s, I learned what I wanted, needed, and deserved. There were great dates, bad dates, break-ups, and so many lessons learned. I have such a better sense of who I am and that made choosing the right person a lot easier.

 

I want a real marriage for the right reasons

My idea of what marriage should look like was so different than what it is now. Instead of looking for someone to take care of me, I found a partner–someone to learn, grow, and build a life with. To be very honest with you, I was so lost and hoped a husband and children would make up for what was missing. And I eventually learned that I am more than ok on my own. I can take care of myself.

I’m excited to get married but marriage won’t define my happiness. I know balancing work and motherhood won’t be easy when the time comes for that. Nothing is perfect or ideal.

 

I didn’t choose the wrong person

Had I married that awful guy I dated throughout my 20s, I’d be unhappily married or divorced. There were three guys I dated since since who were on the marriage track. None of them were “bad” guys, but they weren’t right for me, and I knew not to settle.  

 

I’m more flexible

Some might say I’m Type A. I’ve always needed things to be a certain way but over the past few years, have learned not to take some of those things so seriously. Case in point: when Conor and I first moved in together, I quickly learned that not every chair needed to be pushed in perfectly. Yes, that was a real thing for me. I wouldn’t say that I’m breezy, but I’m a little less Monica Gellar than I used to be. 

 

My wedding has a better guest list

My high school and college friends were the ones I was closest with back in my 20s, but I’ve grown apart from most of them. My guest list still includes some of my oldest friends, but just the ones I’m closest with now, along with new friends from Chicago. Everyone on this list is someone I’ve grown with or have become close with as I’ve become who I am today.

 

I hope it’s clear that I have nothing against getting married or starting a family in your 20s. This is for those of you who might be worried about if and when you’ll get married, because reading this post when I was 25 and freaking out about my timeline would have helped me. Being single isn’t easy, but if you’re there right now, try to embrace the good. It’s a chance to learn and grow and to do your thing. Dating can be the worst but it can also be really fun, and looking back, I’m so glad I had all that time to myself.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on marriage!

Image Via:
Margo & Me
  • Dana Zillgitt

    dating sociopaths is the worst! vast understatement, obvs.

    you’re actually fantastic, thanks for being so open and willing to share.

  • Ashley Spears

    I’m 30 and not yet married though I’ve been in the same long term relationship for 7 years. I grew up in the south and the pressure to be wed and have children before the age of 25 is so intense and I’m glad I waded through that pressure and waited. I have friends that were divorced by the time they were 30 or had kids they weren’t really ready to have because of that same pressure. Growing up I didn’t have this big dream about a wedding and kids because my mother had me when she was 16 and my parents got married, and are still married, for that reason. Truly, when I was a kid my barbies had boyfriends, not husbands, because I thought that was too boring. I didn’t even think about what it’d mean to be married until college when people were getting engaged BEFORE GRADUATING. It was then that I def got caught up in it and watching all of my friends start these huge adventures and what I saw as exciting lives made me want the same thing for all the wrong reasons. I didn’t have a great child hood so was certainly looking towards marriage as a way to make me finally feel loved. I wasn’t appreciative at the time, but my BF held strong on not wanting to be married in our twenties and I will be forever grateful. I learned how to love myself and not need marriage as validation. Today, I don’t think about marriage until someone frustratingly asks why we would be together this long and not be married. I’m not sure why it makes some people so frustrated but I whole-heartedly love being 30 and not married. It makes me happy and relieved to know I didn’t get caught up in the pressure and romance of it all. I decided to stop seeing marriage, kids or even buying a house as things I had to race to or I wasn’t worth anything. Rejecting that pressure gave me freedom and avoided any awful consequences that would’ve come out of rushing into things before I was ready. Plus it makes me feel like a f*cking rebel to not be married and my teenage self would love that.

  • I met my husband a month before I turned 20 and got married at 25, so very different! But I think there were some things that made the difference: we didn’t rush into anything, we were together 5 years before getting married & then I was 30 when I got pregnant with our first child.

    I definitely think it depends on the person/relationship/situation. There was a lot of growing up I had to do but I was able to have the support from a solid partnership and part of that was just luck in finding such a good person in college. It certainly was not because I was so wise in choosing boys to date!

    My struggle in my 20’s was figuring out my career- I definitely had no clue what I really wanted to do or what I was going to enjoy when I graduated. At 34 this is the first time I really have a clear vision of what I want and where I’m going, so I think no matter what the 20’s are now this growing into an adult period regardless of your relationship status!

  • I wish I could have read this post before marrying in my 20’s hahaha now I’m divorced, but I’m happy and ok with that.
    We have similar stories and I totally relate to this post! Thank you so much for sharing!
    XO
    Aimara
    http://www.waysofstyle.com

  • Janine

    I’m glad I didn’t get married in my 20’s as well! I turn 35 in two weeks, and I’m not getting married till 10/28/17. This wasn’t on purpose, but I’m glad it’s happened the way it has.

    The benefits I’ve seen are a lot of the same ones you mention above – I got to know myself, our marriage will be for right reasons, and we will have a better guest list. I changed so much throughout my 20’s, and turning 30 was actually empowering for me because I felt like it was okay to be who I was and to not just go along with the crowd. I’ve found friends that mean the world to me, and I’m so happy they will be at our wedding. I also learned a lot about relationships in general, just by watching the ones around me. It helped me see the different ways people behave in relationships, and I was able to kind of define the types of behaviors and characteristics that wouldn’t work for me in a partner and it made me understand the importance of communication between two people in a relationship.

  • Jodie Orr

    Danielle your posts have been SO spot-on for me lately – thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I just got out of a 4+ year relationship that I thought was headed toward marriage this year. I had moved and started a new job to be close to this person only to have the rug ripped out from under me right after I unpacked my things. The last few months have been a journey from being terrified of being single to being thankful I didn’t try to make a bad thing work. I take a lot of comfort in stories like this – hearing that having patience with yourself and the pursuit of love and marriage makes for a totally-worth-it outcome. I’m 25 and ready to finally figure out who I am and what makes me happy. Here’s to blessings in disguise!

  • Danielle Leach

    Oh my goodness! Thank you for sharing this. I’m currently approaching 29 and being from the south, all of my friends are married/engaged/in a long term relationship and quite a few have kids too. I often feel pressured from my family and friends to be on the same track and while I wouldn’t mind to find someone, it just hasn’t worked out for me yet. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Tuere

    “Being single isn’t easy…” Well…it depends. If someone is single and would rather be partnered in a (romantic) relationship, that *might* be true for them. Someone can be single, prefer to be partnered, yet still feel at ease with being single. It all depends on personal perspective, priorities, and values. Objectively, single itself might not be hard. It’s what we *think* being single means and the stories we tell ourselves about it that can make us believe it isn’t easy.

  • shay

    Girl! Let me tell you, marriage will never define happiness. Marriage is hard as F, full of compromise, ups and downs, love and hatred. Fights and passion. It is by no means “happily ever after” at any age. There will be moments of immense joy, but also intense loneliness. Be prepared to work hard, always question, and keep growing.

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  • I met my husband in college, but we didn’t start dating until later on in our college careers. Some people wanted us to get engaged while we were in college and get married right after, but we both knew was a mistake. We needed to figure out jobs and stability first on our own. We took our time. We got married when I was 25 and he was 24. Yes, we were younger, but we both knew it was right for us. We’re still figuring out our careers, but I’m happy that we’re doing it together. We both support each other in whatever we decide to do that will make us happy. The key is to always communicate, think about yourself and your happiness, and be willing to be open and compromise. Some days though, it can definitely be hard! But I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.

  • The best thing, for me, about being in my early 30s and not yet married has been the amount of time I’ve spent with my sister as an adult. Because I’m not committing to vacation time with a partner (though, I’m sure that would also be great), I’ve been able to take a vacation or two every year for the last 7 years with my sister. We live 2000 miles apart so spending meaningful and significant time together is something I don’t know that I would have if I were married sooner. Personally, I think I am more mature and independent now – I’ve made major life (personal/financial/career) choices and know that I can do that on my own and think if I were in a committed relationship in my 20s I wouldn’t have had the confidence/courage to not defer to my partner.

    • Danielle Moss

      I love that! Having all this time to yourself is huge–I wish I had traveled more before meeting Conor.

  • Rachel Machen

    I got married when I was 31 (almost 32) and I am literally the last of all my friends. I struggled all through my 20’s wondering if it would ever happen for me, but I learned so many lessons along the way and it made me a lot more ready for marriage. The truth is marriage is not perfect and at times it isn’t easy. The 26 year old version of myself would give up a lot easier than the 33 year old version. I now have a lot more perspective on what matters. And as my bridesmaid said in her toast to me, I’ve fought hard to get what I want. I have a deeper appreciation for the journey to where I am today and so glad everything worked out the way it did.

  • I definitely think no one should rush into a marriage and be worried by a timeline. While I say that, I know I also have those fears as well. Compared to most of my friends, I feel behind. At the same time I would never want to rush into something that doesn’t feel right. I know eventually it will all come.

    Brittany | thechicette.com

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